Battered FC Dallas comes to CenturyLink

don.ruiz@thenewstribune.comMay 7, 2014 

The first meeting between Seattle Sounders FC and FC Dallas this season may have marked a turning point for both clubs.

Dallas entered that match with a 4-0-1 record, while the Sounders were 2-2-1. Since then, Dallas has gone 1-3 while Seattle has won four straight games — one short of the club record.

The Sounders’ spurt has moved them alone to the top of the Major League Soccer standings for their rematch with Dallas at 7 p.m. Wednesday at CenturyLink Field.

“Obviously it’s nice, but there’s still a long way to go,” Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said. “The season has swings with it. I think people should be happy and

excited; but you can’t get too high, just like you can’t get too low when it goes the other way.”

The Sounders’ streak began April 12 at FC Dallas, coming from behind twice for a 3-2 win.

“When we played there, it was tough for us,” Seattle defender Djimi Traore said. “We won, 3-2, but it was (a) tough game. (This rematch) is a little bit of revenge for them. For us, we want to stay at the top of the table (standings), so we know what we need to do and try to keep going to do that job.”

Two of Seattle’s goals that day came from Texas native Clint Dempsey, who leads the league in goals (8), shots (33) and shots on target (15). Also regularly contributing has been forward Obafemi Martins, who has scored in three straight games and is the only MLS player with at least four goals and four assists.

Dallas’ streak has taken them in the other direction. The Hoops come into this match after back-to-back loses, including 1-0 at home to New York on Sunday, their first goalless match of the season.

“It just means they’re going to be motivated and driven,” Schmid said. “Are they going to come out into the game maybe a little more defensive in posture? That’s something I’m sure (coach Oscar Pareja) will decide.”

Pareja also will have to factor in the loss of team goals co-leader Je-Vaughn Watson, who is serving a red card suspension. Defender Kellyn Acosta is out due to injury, while midfielder Mauro Diaz is questionable.

Both teams come into the match with relatively little rest. The Sounders are in the middle of a stretch of three games over nine days, and are playing on just three days’ rest for the first time this season.

“Winning makes everything easier, no matter when the games are,” said midfielder Lamar Neagle of Federal Way. “And especially this streak we’ve been on, we just want to keep it going. We have to play and fight through adversity. Maybe some guys are tired, but I think we’ll do fine.”

The turnaround is even tighter for the Hoops, who are playing on just two days of rest and spent one of those days traveling from Texas to the Pacific Northwest.

“It was a tough draw for them having to play Sunday in the heat in the afternoon at Dallas,” Schmid said. “And they ended up playing a man down for 80 minutes, so I’m sure that took a little bit out of their players. They’ve got to turn and travel. ... It’s not an easy one.”

NO WORLD CUP FOR OBA

Despite his recent run of form, Martins will not be called for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. He was not included on Nigeria’s 30-man roster released Tuesday.

SOUNDERS GAMEDAY

FC DALLAS (5-3-1; 16 POINTS) AT SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC (6-2-1; 19)

7 P.M., CENTURYLINK FIELD

TV: JOEtv. Radio: 97.3-FM.

Head to head: The Sounders lead 7-2-4 overall and 4-1-1 in Seattle. Seattle won the previous meeting this season, 3-2, at Frisco, Texas. The clubs will conclude their regular season series in Frisco on Sept. 24.

Notes: The Sounders have the best record in MLS, are unbeaten over their last five games and have won their last four. Dallas has lost three of its last four matches after starting the season 4-0-1. ... These are the top-scoring teams in MLS. Seattle has 20 goals, and Dallas has 18. ... The Hoops have allowed nine goals over their last four matches. ... Obafemi Martins has scored in three straight games for the Sounders and is the only MLS player with at least four goals and four assists this season. ... Dallas’ balanced attack is led by four players with three goals each: Blas Perez, Mauro Diaz, Je-Vaughn Watson and Michel. ... Watson is out due to disciplinary suspension. Diaz is questionable with a knee injury. Also questionable due to knee injury is Dallas defender George John, who attended the University of Washington. ... Seattle left back Leo Gonzalez (hamstring) is questionable, while left back Dylan Remick (ankle) is out. ... Dallas is 1-1-1 on the road. The Sounders are 3-2 at home. ... The referee is Baldomero Toledo.

Quotable: “They’re a team that has good speed. They’re very dangerous on set pieces. ... They get Michel back against us, and his service and their size definitely becomes an issue.” — Seattle coach Sigi Schmid on FC Dallas.

Next: 3 p.m. Sunday, Sounders at New England Revolution.

don.ruiz@thenewstribune.com

Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808 don.ruiz@thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer @donruiztnt

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